I think I would have given Hotwire five bullets simply because of Steve Pugh's stunning illustrations. I've long been a fan of Pugh's work, and this issue is more of the same. If this series doesn't get a Spectrum award there's something even more wrong with the universe than I thought.
With Warren Ellis, Pugh creates a colorful character that operates on an occult earth. She is Detective-Exorcist Alice Hotwire. She hunts down the "blue light" ghosts and sets them free. Along the way she seeks to save the lives of those who have been possessed.
I've seen Buffy clones good and bad proliferate the horror and dark fantasy sections of the bookstore, and the elfin Alice isn't one of them. Pugh and Ellis breathe life into a character that's unique through her career as a police detective and her core personality, which is to follow the rules. Alice isn't a rebel. She's a by the book cop. She fights things that by their nature follow the rules, but now something is breaking the rules. This is the challenge that Alice must face.
A more grounded challenge comes in the form of her fellow officers believing her to be the whistleblower that got Mobey and other cops suspended over their violent riot control. This isn't true, but according to the rules, a whistleblower has the right to anonymity. Therefore, though her silence is interpreted as an admission of guilt, she feels none of the officers has the right to even ask. She's on the receiving end of an ethical quandary not just at the backhand of the dead.
Under Pugh's tender love and care, Alice's pale skin emits an exotic chalky glow unless warmed by the gold of sunlight or the amber of sirens. Her fur fringed jacket and hair look soft and touchable. Her leather seems to creak as she ducks, hits and runs and drives her motorcycle. Her bright red pvc like outfit shines and looks slick. Her eyes rivet your attention. It's difficult to put into words how gorgeous this book is and how real the characters feel. I urge you to buy at least the first issue. You'll be kicking yourself if you don't. This is not homogenous artwork following a robotic house style. This is the kind of illustration that should be adorning the walls of a gallery.
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